UC’s Oldest Grad This December Is a Familiar Voice in Cincinnati
He has led generations of Cincinnatians on a discovery of classical music. At Commencement, Gary Barton takes the first step on the pathway he’s considering for a second career.Date: 12/5/2011
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
UC’s oldest graduate at the December Commencement ceremony would no doubt admit that he has a deep appreciation for the classics, as in Bach, Beethoven and Shostakovich. Gary Barton, who’s 65, was an announcer for WGUC Radio for more than 32 years, starting in 1973 when the classical public radio station was still owned by the university. At Commencement on Dec. 10, he’ll achieve his bachelor’s degree in history, and adds that he “wants to come back for more.”
Eventually, money issues and broadcasting jobs lured him out of college and into radio full time. The job at WGUC brought him to Cincinnati.
In addition, for 25 years, he wrote, produced and announced the WGUC broadcasts of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a connection that led him to his wife, Gwynneth, who was on the orchestra’s business sponsorship committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science as well as a law degree from UC. The couple have been married for 20 years.
As his career came to a close at WGUC, Barton says he saw an opportunity to pursue the dream of achieving a college degree. On this journey, he says he discovered “there are some brilliant people teaching at the university.
“I took a course about the 1960s from UC Professor Mark Lause, and I feel that I made some nice contributions in class!”
He adds that former history professor Thomas Lorman, now a scholar in London, was a great inspiration and supporter.
Barton says he hopes that eventually, he will be the classroom professor. He says he wants to continue pursuing a master’s and PhD in history.
As he considers prepping for the GRE, he says he has applied as a substitute teacher for Cincinnati Waldorf School, recalling that he enjoyed such a job decades ago while substitute teaching in Detroit.
As for being December’s oldest graduate, he says he doesn’t feel “old” at all. “Sometimes, my body distresses me because it won’t do what I want it to do, but really, I don’t feel old.”
As he looks ahead to graduation, he says this milestone in higher education has been a long journey. “It has been a very long road, and I hope the next leg of the journey will be shorter.”